Massive climber rose in Container. Doable?

toronto_girl_zone_6(5b/6a)June 2, 2011

Hello! I asked this question on the rose forum as well, but I suspect the folks here at the container gardening forum would be able to provide me with some insight as well.

I want to grow a climbing rose to climb from a container on my porch up a trellis and onto an adjoining balcony above my garage. The rose in consideration is "New Dawn", which is reputed to grow 20 feet tall, and is hardy to zones 5a - 9b, and I live in zone 5b/6a.

Here are my concerns:

1) How large a container do I need to plant this massive rose, to allow it to grow to full mature size in however many years it takes? I understand that an undersized pot will cause stunted growth as the root system growth will be restricted.

2) What kind of winter protection will I need to provide the rose? (I will not be able to move the container once it is in place)

3) What kind of soil/potting mix should I use for my rose?

4) Could anyone recommend a good fertilizer regime? Roses are heavy feeders.

I would appreciate all suggestions! My rose will be getting full sun in the position it will be in.

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Due to winter conditions and the protection needed for rose roots against the winds and temperatures, I'm afraid it might not work... New Dawn is a fantastic specimen, but I think it would be better to plant it directly in the ground. New Dawn is also a massive specimen once it gets settled and throws out good growth. It might not be the best choice for a container.

Growing roses in containers can work... but only if you are able to move them into protected areas for the winter, and if you can provide them with the amount of medium and size of pot required for good growth.

I'm in zone 5b, Central Illinois, and I grow all manner of roses rated for zone 5, and even some for zone 6... but they're all grown in the ground, where a thick layer of mulch and the fact that their roots aren't exposed above ground allows for good survival.

Any potted roses I grow are moved into an unheated garage for winter, where the pots are protected from the burning cold of the wind, plus the low temperatures we get.

I really don't know that wrapping a container with insulating material would be enough... roses are picky enough about growing conditions...

Personally, I think I would choose a climbing miniature rose for container growing. The miniatures will get a lot bigger than you might think. They're actually sports of regular sized roses, or they've been chosen and bred for their smaller size. But given the opportunity to grow to their potential, they can surprise you with very good growth and size.

I'd choose a miniature, and place it in a medium like Al's 511, in a large patio container, and I'd feed it a good all purpose liquid fertilizer. I'd keep an eye on moisture, too... roses are heavy drinkers, though they don't like to be constantly saturated. They'll prefer a medium that drains well, allows for good aeration, and one that will adequately dry out in between waterings.

If you are sure you won't be able to move the container, I don't know that I'd waste effort or money on something as nice as New Dawn... it would be a shame to lose it to a frigid winter.

Couldn't you move the container into a garage for the winter using a dolly? Or if it were on a plant caddy with wheels?

I'm not sure I've explained myself well enough... I grow roses as a business, and I make it a habit to ensure all potted items are safely tucked inside an unheated building for winter protection. All roses grown in the ground are given a thick mulch layer, but nothing more... no cones, no burlap, no fussing.

The New Dawn I have growing on the fence beside my greenhouse is so massive that I don't think it would make a good container specimen. However, I do have several miniatures that would be lovely container plants, which could be pruned to be moved every fall for protection. I just wouldn't risk losing a rose like that, knowing that the roots require very good protection from our northern windchills and frigid temperatures.

Heirloom Roses, or John's Miniatures, both have some incredible choices in smaller roses... many very hardy... all own-root, which is very important, I feel...

I can picture what you want to do... I'm just not sure that New Dawn is the right choice. My New Dawn has exceeded its 12 foot length, and is so huge that I'm hoping the fence will support it!

I wish you luck... honestly, I would do a little more research on both winterizing potted plants in cold areas, and on which roses would make the best container specimens.

Happy Gardening!

PS - I'll try to post a picture of my New Dawn rose later today, so you can see what I mean.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 10:54AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

How would you manage re-potting when the time comes? Eventually the growing medium is going to break down and need replaced.
If that rose gets as big as Im reading here, It would seem almost impossible to re-pot.

I just planted a Dragon's fruit on a trellis and I figure I have 3 years to figure out how i'll re-pot it, but I know it's going to be a challenge. But being a succulent, would be nothing to have to cut it down.

It would be a shame to have to cut such a beautiful rose.

I have a mini growing in the 5-1-1 as Jodi mentioned, and it's doing fantastic, other than the darn bee's eating it.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 11:50AM
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This is New Dawn, planted in the ground. It has passed its listed length, and is quite gigantic, as you can see...

The New Dawn specimen I have puts out a gorgeous flush of blush pink blooms right around this time every year... flowering after the first flush is sporadic. For a container specimen, I would think it better to choose a reliable continual bloomer.

JoJo has a good point... after a couple of years, it would become imperative to replace the medium in the container due to decomposition. A rose the size of New Dawn would present a bit of a problem for re-potting.

This is a miniature rose, variety unknown... notice how it's not keeping to a miniature size, and is climbing the fence and spreading out rather like a normal sized plant...

Roses are wonderful plants... I enjoy each and every one I have planted, and I enjoy helping people choose different rose types based on their needs... but I honestly think that New Dawn, as a variety, would be much better placed directly in the ground.

I'd look for an own-root climbing miniature for container use, and I'd be prepared to move the pot into a protected area for winter.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 4:41PM
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Okay... I see what you mean. Jodik, Jojo, thank you both for your input. The pictures really helped. I think I will go back and research miniature climbing roses and see if I can locate something that will suit. I do still want to use a stationary planter... I will investigate means of insulating planters and attempt to locate a disease-resistant, miniature rose that is far below my zone as possible... if such a rose even exists...

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 5:24PM
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Most miniature roses will be fairly hardy, to about zone 5, because they are grown on their own rootstock... there's no graft to protect. Grafted roses are not very hardy, at all, and are basically just a way to rush along mass production. I avoid grafted roses, myself. To me, they're just a waste of time and money.

Growing any plant in a container, and ensuring winter protection without moving the pot, will take special pains. You'll need to wrap and protect the pot in such a way that the root system of the plant inside will survive any frigid temperatures and below zero windchills, which can burn plants.

Below is an example of a miniature climber, "Cl Jeanne Lajoie", growing under a Fuji Apple tree... the rose has been planted there for about 2 or 3 years and is just now beginning to really spread and put on some nice growth... I'm hoping to train it up into the tree.

And a little closer, so you can see the blooms...

The flowers are not as large as a variety like New Dawn, but the plant size is much more manageable. And, as you can see, they are quite beautiful!

Miniature roses would be much more cost effective if you end up having to replace it, too.

I wish you luck... I'm not really sure a rose will survive a northern winter being exposed in such a way. But, if you have your heart set on it, it would be worth the effort to look further into insulating containers for winter, and also into rose varieties that are better suited for such conditions.

The world of roses has really expanded, though, to include many very lovely hardy varieties, in a rainbow of colors and shapes and sizes.

Below is a link to Heirloom's miniature rose selection, although there are other companies specializing in miniatures, too... and you may find a different, but normal sized specimen you prefer. I do think, though, that you're going to want to stick with a variety that won't get too large. There is the re-potting to think about.

Happy Gardening!

Here is a link that might be useful: Heirloom Roses... Miniatures

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 8:25AM
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Jodik, your "Cl Jeanne Lajoie" is gorgeous! I am looking into smaller varieties of roses. The "Felix Leclerc" from the Canadian Artist series in particular seems like a good choice to me and own root plants are available from This climber is hardy to zone 3, has a smaller growth habit (still not a miniature) and is highly disease resistant. I'm hoping this will be the rose I am looking for, but I will shop around some more!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 10:37AM
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Thank you!

We grow all manner of roses, and for disease and pest resistance, I like the miniature "Green Ice". When so many of my other mini's are affected by either the heat, the humidity, or the voracious bugs, "Green Ice" seems to keep all its foliage and bloom along like there's no tomorrow! It generally blooms white, but as the weather cools in autumn, it takes on a greenish tinge that's just lovely. Its habit is more of a small, mounding shrub shape, though.

For color, I positively adore "Teddy Bear". Once again, we're talking about more of a shrub shape, but the color is a coppery orange that matures to a bit of salmon pink... gorgeous!

For scent, my absolute favorite is "Autumn Damask". When you walk past its blooms, the rose scent is almost overpowering! It's not a miniature, but it seems to be a slower grower than quite a few other types, and after 3 years is still a very manageable size.

"Felix Leclerc" is a lovely choice. We have several rose varieties from the Canadian series, and they can't be beat for hardiness. Although, planting one in a container will present some issues. You'll need to somehow protect the outside of the pot from the winter temperatures and winds, and re-potting will be quite an adventure.

The choices of variety available, once you really begin to look around and research, is quite vast! In order to narrow it down, we look for several features that a rose must have... it must be own-root, hardy to our zone, disease resistant, preferably a continual bloomer, scent is a plus, and then we look at color, bloom shape and size. It's all personal preference, of course, but it helps us to narrow down the choices.

We will grow a variety that blooms only one time, but only if it's a rare, hard to find, old garden variety. Continual bloom or a good repeat is important to us.

I'm sure you're having fun researching... it's really amazing how many named roses there are, all the colors and shapes, the different types... I sometimes go back and look at the websites of rose sellers just so I can drool over the selections... especially in winter!

I wish you much luck with your project... and if there's anything else I can help you with, I'd be happy to try. :-)

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 6:16PM
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Hello toronto girl! I found this thread because I am contemplating the very same thing...a showy climbing rose in a large container. How did your Felix fare in the pot?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 1:41PM
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Hello! I came along this threat and was also wondering which rose you went with? I am in a similar situation and have posted in the Rose forum hoping to get help.

I have a NYC rooftop with a full sun Pergola and am really wanting to grow rambling or climbing roses mixed with some Clematis over it from CONTAINERS.

I am dreaming of something like in the photo attached and am really hoping it would work. From Containers, that cannot be moved indoors, because the roses would be on the Pergola, unless I could somehow unwrap them and bring them in but that seems unrealistic, is it?

Any help would be so appreciated! I read through the forums hoping to find someone who has experienced and successfully done this or heard of it! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

PS.: I do not own this photo or its copyrights, I saw it online

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 2:04PM
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this image from a book is also so so so wonderful, but is there any chance I could attempt to grow such beauty from containers that stay in place over winter??? THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 2:06PM
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this is my rooftop pergola, I am sorry I haven't figured out how to implement multiple images in one post....

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 2:08PM
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